Jack Walker Published

DNR Law Enforcement Unit Launches Dive Team

Mostly submerged diver by a boat
The new diving unit will respond to emergency needs on West Virginia's waterways, and provide day-to-day support to the Division of Natural Resources.
WV Governor's Office

Residents using West Virginia’s waterways may soon see a new law enforcement team responding to safety concerns and emergency incidents.

That’s because the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR) Law Enforcement Section is creating a professional dive team, which will specialize in water safety and recovery efforts.

Among its responsibilities, the new team will respond to boating incidents, assist with missing persons cases and help recover evidence submerged underwater across West Virginia. 

The team’s creation was announced during a press event in Summers County Wednesday. West Virginia Natural Resources Police Colonel Bobby Cales said the team’s creation was a long-time goal for his agency.

“Part of my vision when I was appointed as the colonel was to [create] an active tactical dive team with members that are trained in underwater aquatics to better serve our citizens by providing a service related to waterborne incidents,” he said.

When not responding to issues on state waterways, the team will serve as game wardens, like other members of the WVDNR law enforcement team, according to Cales.

But members of the dive team will have additional expertise and training in a skillset currently underrepresented in the agency.

“Divers on the team pride themselves in providing a safe, dependable and efficient unit,” Cales said. “Their efforts support local, state and federal agencies that we work with daily.”

State officials who attended Wednesday’s event expressed support for the new team and the Law Enforcement Section’s work broadly.

“These guys are the utmost professionals,” said WVDNR Director Brett McMillion. “This project will tremendously benefit the state.”

Gov. Jim Justice thanked the WVDNR for the “unbelievable work” they are doing, and said the state is “blessed” to have the additional assistance of a dive team. “It will help us with all kinds of things,” he said.